Jackie Collins: Queen Bitch
By Maria Bustillos
She is thoughtful for a while, in contrast to her usual vivacity. I ask her about her later involvement in gay rights issues.
“I did a book tour two or three years ago, for Married Lovers, and I had my own rock ’n’ roll bus, and I went to 23 cities in the South,” she says. “Harrah’s Casinos promoted the tour. So I would stop and talk and sign books at every Harrah’s -- there are tons… And there were so many young guys who would say to me, ‘You’ve made my life so different. I can’t wait to get to New York or Los Angeles; I can’t wait to get out of here because you’ve shown me the way, that it is possible to have a normal life -- and I can’t have it here, because nobody will accept me.’ ”
“I’ve written 29 books, and I’ve always had gay characters, right from the very beginning,” she says. “Sometimes they might be a little clichéd, and sometimes not. [For example] Cole, who is my gay fitness trainer, has been in several books with Lucky [Santangelo, the heroine of many of Collins’s novels]. He is so gorgeous, and he keeps on having these affairs with older men in Hollywood who just want him for his looks.”
Well, we’ve seen that happen.
“Oh, we’ve seen that! I had dinner the other night with a very -- I can’t say his name, but a very, very famous gay man in Hollywood -- very rich, very famous -- and his much much much younger boyfriend. They’d been together about two years, and then the next week they broke up and the boyfriend was gone. And I’m thinking to myself, What happens to him now?”
You started writing at a time before things got so heavy -- before AIDS.
“Before AIDS, before gay men were even talked about in books, unless it was a gay book. Before women talked about sex. Before -- you know, it was 1968 when my first book appeared, The World Is Full of Married Men.”
It was banned all over the place! Were you happy about that?
“I was happy because it went to number 1 within two weeks in England.”